Review - The Woman in Black (Fortune Theatre)

The Woman in Black is now celebrating 30 bone-chilling years on the West End. Based on Susan Hill’s novel of the same name, The Woman in Black sees an elderly former lawyer named Arthur Kipps recounting a fateful trip he made many years earlier, during which time he encountered the titular woman in the derelict Eel Marsh House and fell victim to her curse. Kipps enlists the help of an actor to assist him in putting his story down in a play, but as the two men work to bring the haunting tale to life, a dark prescience lurks in the wings. 
Stuart Fox and Matthew Spencer in The woman in Black
Photo credit - Tristram Kenton
Stuart Fox and Matthew Spencer star as Kipps and The Actor, and do a miraculous job of bringing all of the play’s various eclectic characters to life. Within the intimate auditorium of the Fortune Theatre, which stands in for a cosy Victorian stage, the play is utterly engrossing from beginning to end.

Every tiny bump in the dark rings out across the audience and sends shivers down the spine, with Stephen Mallatratt's script amping up the unease as the story builds towards its chilling conclusion. Matthew Spencer’s portrayal of fear and confusion as he re-enacts the younger Kipps’ encounters at Eel Marsh House are so focused and animated that the entire audience can’t help but be pulled in to the world of the play. Yelps of fear from theatregoers are unsurprisingly common, and only help to stoke the energy in audience.

With 30 year reputation for inducing nightmares in audiences of all ages, and a place on the GCSE Drama curriculum, it’s no surprise that The Woman in Black remains as frighteningly fresh as ever.